Creative Careers 101: What Is The Role Of A Creative Director?

creative director
Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

Do you have an artistic vision that you want to bring to life? Do you live and breathe the creative process, working on and developing new projects every day? Then you may want to consider pursuing a career as a creative director.

In the creative industry, there are many paths one can pursue. The role of a creative director is all encompassing and expansive – allowing you to collaborate and put your ideas into practice.

If this role sounds like the perfect fit for you, then it’s time to start honing your skills in creative direction.

To help get you started, let’s talk about the role of a creative director and the path to becoming one.

What is a Creative Director?

In essence, a creative director acts as the creative lead. They can work in advertising, marketing and commercial departments to craft and create ideas that will translate into sales for their client.

A creative director not only oversees the creative process, but collaborates in the workplace with other members of the team. This includes consulting with designers, artists, copywriters and marketers to collectively create a direction and vision for their client’s services or products.

Plus, they can work within the arts and entertainment industry.  They work on various productions by crafting and executing the overall look and aesthetic of a fashion shoot, television show and more.

Now, that we know more about the career of a creative director – let’s focus on the specific role and job duties that are required in this profession.

What is the Role of a Creative Director?

In the creative world, many are still perplexed by the role of a creative director. Posing the question:

“So, what is it that a creative director actually does?”

According to MediaBistro, an online source for media related careers, the role is defined as:

“Determining the creative vision of a brand or project and manifests that vision through digital, print and film installations. The job is to maintain a cohesive look and feel of a project – be it an advertising campaign, fashion line, video game or magazine – by ensuring the visuals, messaging and/or interactive and motion designs are on point. A creative director also establishes budgets and timelines and manages client relationships.”

So, as you can see, the role of a creative director requires the wearing of many hats. From creative vision to visuals to management – being successful in this position means being able to multitask, meet project deadlines and build a team.

In fact, a good creative director is not just creative. They need to be open to others ideas, be able to work within a team and collaborate and understand how to solve problems.

Now, let’s talk about how you can become one and start your career in this field.

How do you become a Creative Director?

Like many positions within the creative industry, becoming a creative director requires persistence, patience and the drive to make your ideas happen.

Obtaining a degree in fine arts or photography can be a great place to start on the path to pursuing creative direction.

You should look for a degree program that covers multiple artistic skill sets such as production, design and direction. It may be even be helpful to add a double major or minor in advertising, marketing or production.

During your studies, you should take on internship positions each year. Find companies you want to learn from and apply. Seek out industry professionals whose work you admire. Then, reach out to see if they are seeking an assistant or offering mentorship opportunities.

The role of a creative director is a senior position. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t land a role directly after finishing school.

Instead, look for positions that allow you to work within the creative department of a brand, publication or agency. Find spots on creative teams that focus on production, artistic direction and design.

While you are working, you must remember to network and attend industry events. Often, a role will become available through your networking.

So, while you are building your career, make it a priority to engage and form relationships with people in your industry. If you build a strong network, you may be the first call when a creative director role becomes available.

Remember to work hard, stay focused and always continue to create personal creative projects. If you have the vision and ability to execute your ideas effectively – you will find success as a creative director.

The Creative Director Starter Pack

To help you learn more about the field and expand your knowledge of creative direction – we’ve created our “Creative Director Starter Pack.”

Here are three books you can pick up now to inspire you and jumpstart your career in creative direction.

creative direction

Creative Direction in a Digital World | The Accidental Creative | Designing Brand Identity